FORT POLK, La. - Instructors from the Air Assault School in Fort Drum, N.Y., are at Fort Polk, teaching an air assault course to more than 200 soldiers. Due to the high number of soldiers wanting to take the course, the instructors will be running the class twice over a three week period.
Soldiers from the Patriot Brigade that graduate from the air assault course will be better trained to carry out their day to day missions and add to operational readiness.
From day one of the grueling course, the candidates have to prove that they have what it takes to earn the Air Assault Badge.
"This is a ten day course, on day one after we in process candidates, we give them a physical fitness test, and to decide who is physically fit enough to be in the course. Then we show the candidates power point slides on aircraft orientation and all the safety regulations. There is a test given at the end that all candidates must pass. This is all on day one," said Staff Sgt Joshua Dozanti, an instructor at the Fort Drum, N.Y., Air Assault School. "The course doesn't get easier."
The air assault mission is critical to Army operations, large numbers of soldiers and equipment can be quickly transported to the battlefield adding to the Patriot Brigade's operational capabilities.
"Aircraft can't carry everything inside the cargo holds, so most aircraft have external hooks underneath them, we can hook sling loads to the hooks. This allows the aircrafts to carry more weight, allowing the Army to spread out more equipment and supplies to the soldiers in the battlefield," said Staff Sgt. Brandon Woodson, phase two chief of the Air Assault School at Fort Drum, N.Y. "The third part of Air assault is repelling. Repelling provides the quickest and largest surprise to the enemy on the battlefield because we are able to rapidly deploy Soldiers using air assault [insertion techniques]."
While the course is open to most soldiers, air assault is not for everyone, it takes a special type of Soldier to be awarded the Air Assault Badge.
"The soldiers at Fort Polk were sent to this course for a reason. The leaders know how important these air assault slots are, so they are going to send their most motivated, ready to train and eager soldiers to learn air assault operations," said Woodson.
Patriot Brigade soldiers that gained a chance to earn their Air assault badges did not take this chance for granted.
"There were very few people from across Fort Polk that were given this chance, I was very excited and honored to be selected by my team leader," said Specialist Jeremiah Derosier, an air assault candidate.
The first class started last week with 94 candidates and graduated with 56 candidates on Wednesday. The high attrition rate tells you that the air assault course is not for the weak.
On Thursday, a new group of Air assault candidate will start their journey to gain the coveted Air Assault Badge.
"It's going to be a lot more important that the second class pays close attention to detail. There is going to be about 130 candidates going through phase two with only eight instructors, so motivation and attention to detail will help with the long days," said Woodson.